Biosphere Expeditions returned to Dubai in 2019 for its eight consecutive expedition to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR). A group of 17 citizen scientists from six different countries, including two local placements from the UAE, spent two weeks working in the reserve collecting ecological data on the wildlife and habitats within the DDCR.
Greg Simkins, the DDCR Manager, comments on the expedition: “It is great to have citizen scientists from Biosphere Expeditions coming back year after year, as it gives us an opportunity to collect a large amount of data over a short period of time that can be compared between years to determine changes in species population sizes and vegetation communities”.
During the expedition, the expeditioners worked closely with Greg and the other DDCR staff, including Moayyed Sher Shah, the DDCR Conservation Officer, who provided training during the initial phase of the expedition and then assisted the newly trained citizen scientists out in the field. Moayyed says: “This was my first year working with Biosphere Expeditions and it was a great experience to be involved with such a motivated and enthusiastic group of people from a wide variety of backgrounds”.
Whenever possible Biosphere Expeditions provide opportunities for local students or early career conservationists and this year’s expedition was joined by Areej Jaradat from the UAE. Areej has studied environmental science, but previously found it difficult to get field work experience. The expedition gave her an opportunity to confirm she would enjoy the life of a wildlife conservationist working out in the field. Areej has volunteered to assist Moayyed with the analysis of several thousand camera trap images captured during the course of the expedition. This analysis, amongst other things, recorded the presence of the rare Gordon’s wildcat in the reserve, the first confirmed sighting in several years, as well as rare lappet-faced vultures.
The data collected during the expedition will help the DDCR formulate management plans for the reserve and its wildlife populations. The expedition also provided a great opportunity for citizen scientists from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities to experience the stunning environment and wildlife of the Arabian desert.
The expedition was kindly supported with vehicles, fuel and a desert dinner by Arabian Adventures. Dr. Matthias Hammer, executive director of Biosphere Expeditions, is “very grateful for this significant support by Arabian Adventures whose 4×4 cars are an invaluable tool for the expedition.”